As someone who travels Colorado’s roadways with regularity, you have probably spotted those runaway truck ramps along the sides of some highways that are supposed to give truck drivers a place to go in the event that their brakes fail. These truck ramps should undergo use by truckers only as a last resort, however, and today’s truck drivers should typically know that they may need to rely on more than just brakes in order to navigate downhill trips safely.
Regrettably, Transport Topics reports that many wrecks involving commercial trucks result from brake failure. In fact, one study involving 967 commercial truck crashes revealed that brake failure was a factor in nearly 30% of them. While many such incidents are preventable, inexperience is a common factor in crashes involving brake failure, indicating that increased training could potentially help reduce the number of them occurring across Colorado and the rest of the United States.
Common forms of air brake failure
One of the reasons it is dangerous for truck drivers to rely solely on their air brakes is because there are several different ways in which the brakes can ultimately fail. Air brakes work because the braking system pushes compressed air into the brake, which allows it to perform while the vehicle is moving. If the air brake system malfunctions, though, the brakes can come on automatically, which can lead them to lock up.
Similarly, air brakes are prone to failure when drivers keep them depressed too long, which is something that happens more frequently among younger, less experienced drivers who are trying to navigate their way down steep hills. Under these circumstances, the brakes can overheat and ultimately catch fire, potentially causing a range of other dangerous problems.
Some safety advocates believe that younger truck drivers are more prone to having brake issues not only because they lack experience, but because they are also more likely to panic in situations where their trucks’ brakes malfunction.